Sunak puts 'new ideas' centre stage as he sets his sights on reform
Rishi Sunak, guest of honour at Policy Exchange’s summer reception, spoke of the need to create an education service that equips every child to meet their full potential, to create the next generation workforce to compete with the rest of the world, and a health service to meet the needs of an aging population, and ensure taxpayers get the service they deserve. ‘That means new ideas…And that is why Policy Exchange exists — to go beyond the horizons of politicians and find those new frontiers just like you did with free schools, just like you did with beauty in the built environment. You’ve done it before. And we need you to do it again. We must push ourselves harder to be a force for change for the people of this country. And in my experience, anything truly transformative always begins in the same place: the imagination’.
Hon Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the UN, gave the Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture at Policy Exchange on 22 June 2022
She pressed the need for Western deterrence in the face of threats from Russia, China and Iran, and warned that the West must take the hostility and strategic ambition of these powers seriously. A failure in deterrence after Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014 led to the February invasion of Ukraine. However, the war in Ukraine would pale in comparison to one in East Asia. Deterring such a war should be the overwhelming goal of the entire free world. She called for a fundamental shift in how the West approaches its enemies: the theory that trade with potentially hostile nations leads to peace has again been painfully disproven. When asked about US politicians weighing in on the UK’s Northern Ireland Protocol legislation, she said it was not the business of the US and that it should support whatever the UK chooses to do.
You can watch her full lecture here.
Receiving Policy Exchange's Grotius Prize, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas urges continuing need for forthright response to Russian aggression and genocide
On the occasion of receiving Policy Exchange’s 2022 Hugo Grotius Prize, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas gave an important speech on the need for Europe to continue to respond robustly to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This aggression is both genocidal and represents an existential threat to the Baltic states. She warned against talk of and the making of a premature peace.
Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP presented the prize, a seventeenth century copy of Grotius’s On the Law of War and Peace, to the Estonian Prime Minister in recognition of her contribution to upholding the international rules based order.
Watch the event in full here.
Dean Godson chairs discussion between UK Foreign Secretary and Indian Foreign Minister at first UK-India Strategic Futures Forum hosted by Policy Exchange in conjunction with the Indian Council of World Affairs
Today in India, the Rt Hon Liz Truss and Hon Dr. S Jaishankar enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation, hosted by Policy Exchange’s Director, Lord Godson.
They discussed the opportunities of the ‘positive agenda’ that lies ahead, to make the two countries both closer and safer. Security in supply chains (in light of both the pandemic and invasion of Ukraine) was particularly looked at, with agreement the two countries are yet to operate together at ‘maximum potential’ in areas such as technology and defence cooperation.
The Foreign Secretary was clear that ‘relationships of trust are more important than ever before’.
Policy Exchange wins first prize twice in Prospect Think Tank awards – only think tank to do so
Policy Exchange came first in two categories at last night’s prestigious Prospect magazine 20th Annual Think Tank Awards – winning first place for Advocacy, and for Health, Science and Medicine think tank of the year. Policy Exchange is the only think tank to come top in two categories.
Prospect’s Editor Alan Rusbridger – formerly the Editor of The Guardian – in giving the Advocacy prize to Policy Exchange, remarked that the think tank is “very much part of the national debate and clearly influential.” This is the second year running that Policy Exchange has won the Advocacy Award.
The judges – including former NHS England Chief Executive Lord Stevens of Birmingham – praised Policy Exchange’s Health and Social Care Unit, headed by Robert Ede with Dr Sean Phillips as Senior Fellow, for its “measurable impact on policy development and shaping government thinking on a range of areas including public health and ministerial accountability for the NHS”.
Levelling Up: Can the United Kingdom be both more prosperous and more equal? Policy Exchange’s assessment
The Government’s much anticipated Levelling Up White Paper was unveiled this week by Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. The Government plans to rebalance the United Kingdom economy, making it both wealthier and more equal. Can both goals be achieved? Does the Levelling Up White Paper put sufficient emphasis on the role of the private sector?
Policy Exchange asked its subject experts – including Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, David Goodhart, Connor MacDonald, Benjamin Barnard, Robert Ede, Dr Sean Phillips and Ed Birkett – to evaluate the White Paper and offer their initial analysis and reaction. Gove commented that Policy Exchange’s responses offer “a comprehensive analysis from the team that defined the challenge”. Read our analysis here.
“No other think tank has such timing and indeed connections.” That is the opinion of Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP about Policy Exchange. Wallace was giving the Vote of Thanks on 10 January Falklands Margaret Thatcher Day Lecture by Charles Moore – Policy Exchange Visiting Scholar, Baroness Thatcher’s authorised biographer and former Daily Telegraph Editor. The event marked the fortieth anniversary of the Falklands War. In his lecture Moore reflected upon Thatcher as war leader and the continuing lessons we can draw from the events of 1982.
In his remarks Wallace underlined that Britain still needs to stand up to our adversaries. He stated: “Our enemies should not doubt Britain’s determination to stand up to bullies, to defend those that cannot defend themselves and our values. History is littered with the consequences of those that underestimated this small island.”
Wallace’s comments were reported on by the Telegraph and Sun. Hon Leona Roberts MLA, Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly – speaking via a live link from Port Stanley – shared her childhood remembrances of 1982. Moore’s lecture was later replayed in the Islands’ cinema.
Excessive noise poses a real and serious risk to human health. Polling of Londoners by Deltapoll for Policy Exchange shows that only eight per cent of the city’s inhabitants report never being bothered by noise. Only 24 per cent of Londoners would be happy for noise to return to pre-pandemic levels. If this is to be avoided, now is the time that action on noise needs to be taken. To help curb noise levels, Turning Down the Volume recommends: an increase in the planting of street trees, testing to see if the dB levels of sirens could be reduced without harming their efficacy; the Metropolitan Police Service invest in drone technology that would allow them to reduce the use of helicopters over London; and bringing in higher fines for breaching Public Spaces Protection Orders in London. The five most hated noises in London are: Sirens (54%); private motorbikes and scooters (52%); loud music played from vehicles (51%); engine revving (48%); and vehicle alarms (48%). In contrast, Londoners reported enjoying hearing: Wildlife, e.g. bird song (60%); trees rustling (48%); water (48%); children (17%); and church bells (13%).
On Wednesday, Ed Birkett, Head of Energy & Environment at Policy Exchange, gave evidence to MPs on the future role of alternative fuels in the transport sector. MPs asked questions on the role of alternative fuels in road transport , railways, aviation and maritime.
Watch a recording of the evidence session here.
Policy Exchange’s Re-engineering Regulation project will offer a roadmap for regulatory reform fit for the post-Brexit, post-Covid era. Lord Sedwill will Chair an Advisory Council comprising leading figures from a range of fields whose sector-specific knowledge will help guide the project and its conclusions across a variety of sectors: from small businesses, professional and financial services to the NHS, policing and teaching.
Lord Sedwill has authored an article in The Telegraph to mark the launch of the project, writing that “The UK has the opportunity both to streamline regulation and modernise it to deliver the high environmental and social standards our citizens desire, plus the competitive edge the post-Brexit economy demands. As we enter the post-Brexit, post-Covid era, I hope we can grasp it.”
Policy Exchange’s Stephen Booth set out the aims of the project on Conservative Home.
You can read further details of the Advisory Council and the project’s Introductory report here.
In the first part of an exclusive Policy Exchange interview with Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health Select Committee, Bill Gates warns that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius “will be very difficult”. He says: “I doubt that we’ll be able to achieve that.” The founder of Microsoft says that innovation is the key to breakthroughs on climate change, especially in winning over India and China to the net zero agenda. He also praises the UK’s climate leadership, noting that Britain “gets a very good grade on climate progress” and has been “exemplary” on reducing carbon emissions. Watch a clip here. Two further clips will be released this week and the full interview on Friday.
Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office Minister and former Chief Negotiator for Brexit, has launched a stinging attack on the European Union, warning in a Foreword to a new Policy Exchange paper that it has behaved “without regard to the huge political, economic, and identity sensitivities involved” in Northern Ireland, and “has destroyed cross-community consent” with an overly strict enforcement of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Northern Ireland Protocol: The Origins of the Current Crisis, by Roderick Crawford, is the first authoritative chronology to set out how the UK’s hands have been tied throughout Brexit by flawed decisions made in 2017. It is the story of how the UK got stuck with a protocol that was determined by a one-sided and flawed interpretation of the Belfast Agreement.
Lord Frost writes: “We must return to the Protocol and deliver a more robust, and more balanced, outcome than we could in 2019.”
Writing for The Spectator’s Coffee House, Prof Richard Ekins, Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, responds to David Davis MP’s critique of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill and argues that on the contrary the Bill is a welcome first step in restoring the balance of our constitution, a balance put in doubt by a decades-long expansion of judicial power. If anything, he says, Parliament should go further and amend the Bill to make it a more effective means to restore the traditional constitution. Read the post on Coffee House and his longer Policy Exchange paper on the same subject.
Americans believe more strongly that the UK-US alliance is a “Special Relationship” than Britons, according to new polling commissioned by Policy Exchange. Among 1712 British voters, YouGov found that only 28 per cent believe the US-UK alliance is a “special relationship” with a much bigger group – 52 per cent – saying no, the US-UK alliance is not really a “Special Relationship”.
However, in the United States, polling of 1000 people by Echelon Insights discovered that a much greater percentage of Americans believe in the Special Relationship.
Six in ten Americans believe the UK and US does have a special relationship and that the US-UK relationship has been a force for good in the world. Read a commentary for Policy Exchange and The Daily Mail by Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Read the full polling details.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, today endorsed the Policy Exchange Reform of Government Commission report Government Reimagined as an ‘excellent report’ following a speech announcing a new Declaration on Government Reform. The speech set out a series of commitments to reform government in the shadow of COVID-19, echoing recommendations made in Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform. These included commitments to implement capability-based pay, to recruit a dedicated Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for all major projects, to introduce training for ministers and to hold Permanent Secretaries to account against their departments’ outcome delivery plans.
Policy Exchange’s Reform of Government Commission, chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson published its report Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform, in May. The report, authored by Policy Exchange’s Head of Technology Policy, Benjamin Barnard, argued that the Government must embark on a comprehensive modernisation and reform programme
Policy Exchange and the Queen’s Speech
The Queen’s Speech, which set out the Government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session, reflected many of Policy Exchange’s research priorities. In economics, the Government’s commitment to increased capital investment reflects recommendations outlined in our report, Why the Government should spend more on capital. On housing, the Government’s planning reforms adopt the Building Beautiful agenda, which began at Policy Exchange, the recommendation for zonal planning permission being proposed in Rethinking the Planning System for the 21st Century. The support for new owners and renters reflects recommendations in Helping Generation Rent Become Generation Buy.
The speech covered central policy recommendations of the Judicial Power Project including legislation to deal with legacy issues from the Troubles in Northern Ireland and a Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill to end the fixed five-year period between general elections. Policy Exchange’s A Very British Tilt presaged the UK’s Integrated Review and argued that trade is central to the Indo-Pacific “tilt”, which was mentioned in the speech with a commitment by the Government to “deepen trade ties in the Gulf, Africa and the Indo-Pacific”. And finally, the importance of Academic Freedom and in particular, freedom of speech on university campuses will be addressed with legislation and the creation of a free speech champion, a policy priority we highlighted in our report Academic freedom in the UK .
Policy Exchange hosted Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India, for a keynote address on India and the United Kingdom in a Post-Covid World. “The Integrated Review locates UK as a Euro-Atlantic actor with an increasing stake in the Indo-Pacific,” said Dr Jaishankar, adding: “This obviously makes it much more relevant to Indian strategic calculations.”
He noted that the recommendations of Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission were “very timely” and, on UK-India relations, said: “Our partnership was even otherwise getting ready for an upgrade; the new context has given it a greater urgency.”
In the Vote of Thanks, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Foreign Secretary, said: “I can’t think of a better and technologically endowed high trust partner than India. So this relationship matters.” Watch the event in full here.
Does work give our lives purpose, meaning and status? Or is it a tedious necessity that will soon be abolished by automation, leaving humans free to enjoy a life of leisure and basic income? Policy Exchange hosted Jon Cruddas MP for the launch of his book The Dignity of Labour and a discussion on these questions with Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, and Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Chaired by Stephen Bush, Political Editor of the New Statesman. “There’s huge amounts of debate about the leaders of the respective parties… but absolutely nowhere, except at Policy Exchange today, is anyone actually digging beneath the surface,” said Lisa Nandy, adding that Jon Cruddas’s book was “the most important contribution to the political debate in the last decade”. Watch the event in full.
In his first public event since publication of the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Dr Tony Sewell CBE, Commission chair, explained the thinking and evidence behind the report and discussed its main recommendations.
The report, published at the end of March, caused controversy both by stressing ethnic minority success and challenging the conventional wisdom about ethnic group differences being mainly shaped by majority racism. Sewell debated the report, and the often extreme reaction to it, with some of the leading commentators on race and society.
“The report acknowledges that over 50 years things have significantly improved. Second that race is not the only factor in explaining racial disparities and third that some of the best strategies for change is when we find answers for everybody,” he said.
Integrated Review accepts Policy Exchange’s proposals on Indo-Pacific strategy, space and Net Assessment
The Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR), published this week, reflects a broad range of Policy Exchange’s recent research output. Notably, it argues for a “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific, perhaps the most conspicuous grand-strategic decision taken by the British Government in decades, reflecting the framework recommended by Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission in A Very British Tilt: Towards a new UK strategy in the Indo-Pacific. The IR – whose lead author, No 10 Special Adviser John Bew, headed Policy Exchange’s Britain in the World Unit until 2019 – also recommends the shaping of a new international order, as argued for in Making Global Britain Work; putting the space domain at the core of the Government’s strategic vision for this country, as recommended by the work of Policy Exchange’s Space Policy Unit; and the adoption of Net Assessment as a cross-government capability, as recommended by A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment. Read Alexander Downer, Policy Exchange’s Chairman of Trustees, on the IR in ConservativeHome, listen to him on Times Radio; and read Gabriel Elefteriu, Director of Research and Head of the Space Policy Unit in The Spectator’s Coffee House.
Read Policy Exchange’s Reflections on the Integrated Review here
Policy Exchange welcomed the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the History Matters Project Conference. In an hour-long conversation with Trevor Phillips OBE, Chair of the History Matters Project, the Culture Secretary encouraged museums and other institutions not to be “pushed around by noisy campaign groups”.
He said his message to museums, galleries and other institutions was: “Just think as institutions about your wider duty to the nation; your wider duty to conserve and preserve our heritage. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around by the zeitgeist of the day; take a longer-term view of things; make sure you do things in a rigorous way; and understand that your principal duty is to preserve and conserve our heritage.”
He also distinguished between ‘activism’ and ‘debate’ saying his concern “lies in that we avoid the situation where a group of people purport to speak for a larger community and don’t”.
The conference was the first event to bring together leading decision-makers and professionals in the museums and galleries sector and other experts in order to develop new public policy approaches than can be applied broadly.
It included a panel discussion on statues and the public space chaired by Peter Ainsworth, Chair of The Heritage Alliance and another on museums and galleries chaired by Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chair of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Policy Exchange this week published ‘Strong Suburbs’, a report by Dr Samuel Hughes, Senior Fellow, and Ben Southwood, Head of Housing, Transport, and the Urban Space. The report notes that the Government has moved away from ‘top-down’ plans to encourage development in areas with housing shortages. Instead, it argues that a ‘bottom up’ approach driven by local communities will deliver popular and beautiful housing without the need for imposition.
The main proposal would let individual streets vote to give themselves planning permission allowing them to turn themselves from bungalows or semis into terraces
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Policy Exchange has led the debate on empowering communities, winning support for development, and creating beautiful popular homes. The Government supports enabling communities to set their own rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our cherished local heritage, and Policy Exchange is continuing this vital conversation.”
It’s “plain common-sense and the responsible thing to do” to reject calls for a Scottish independence referendum during the Covid-19 pandemic. That is the verdict of Lord Dunlop, former Minister for Scotland and Northern Ireland – and author of an unpublished Government review on the workings of the Union – in an article for Policy Exchange.
His piece marked the launch of Policy Exchange’s Future of the Union Project – led by Adam Tomkins MSP and Eddie Barnes, a former adviser to Ruth Davidson – which will examine over the coming months how the Union can better work for all its constituent parts.
Lord Dunlop’s article observed that we are experiencing a “watershed moment” and called for new a Union of Co-operation, with “a re-vamped and enhanced Intergovernmental Council” helping to “manage disputes and facilitate joint decision-making”. Read the paper here – and coverage in The Sun here.
Eddie Barnes has written a blog for Policy Exchange on what Unionists can learn from remainers’ errors during the EU referendum. He argues that those that are committed to protecting the Union must also commit to ‘the need for real and lasting reform’ and not ‘phoney change’. Read his blog here.
“If anyone was to draw up a list of the top twenty most influential think tanks in Westminster, can anyone seriously doubt that Policy Exchange would be at number one?” That’s the verdict of Iain Dale in the LBC presenter’s latest column for Conservative Home. He calls Policy Exchange “the pre-eminent think tank in the Westminster village” and notes our unique convening power, saying: “There are few organisations that could attract power players like Mark Carney and Alan Greenspan, or Dominic Raab and Mike Pompeo to appear on its platforms.”
Policy Exchange was delighted that the party election manifestos reflected the priorities of our cross-party research since the last general election (and even earlier). Ideas from at least 24 papers were contained in the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green 2019 manifestos – from social care to education, farming to judicial power. Explore the infographic showing which ideas were adopted by the different parties here.
This analysis by Gabriel Elefteriu notes that the UK’s first Defence Space Strategy is an excellent document with an assertive message. It maps out a coherent and logical path towards UK space power. But delivering a range of complex space capabilities quickly within tight budgets will be a major challenge for the MoD: real civil-military integration and a unified space decision & acquisition authority at the heart of Government is required. The Defence Space Portfolio is also an economic tool that can shape the industrial landscape, so the way the new Own-Collaborate-Access framework will be applied should be a matter of wider debate and geopolitical consideration as well.
Average road speeds around the UK’s cities are painfully low, damaging economic growth and forcing people to endure long commutes or to miss out on the best jobs. In this report, Policy Exchange argues that road pricing could improve the lives of drivers as well as commanding public support.
What rights and protections does the Refugee Convention 1951 require the UK to afford to persons it recognises as Convention refugees? In answering this question, the Ninth and Twelfth Reports of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Nationality and Borders Bill fundamentally misunderstand the Convention, unwarrantably truncate its text, and misread – or fail to read – the UK Court decisions on which these Reports rely. This research note traces some of the Joint Committee’s missteps.
The Queen’s Speech and Health & Social Care Reform: What was not announced may be more significant than what was announced
The passage of the centrepiece Health and Care Act during the previous session of this Parliament meant that this year’s Queen Speech had a smaller offering for health and social care. A number of priority commitments set out in March as part of the Annual Mandate (which sets out the Government’s priorities for the NHS) were repeated. The priorities are well understood: bring down the elective waiting list; deliver additional diagnostic capacity, including 100 community diagnostic centres; and make progress on the hospital building programme.
The headline measure is the proposed British Bill of Rights, which would supersede the Human Rights Act. A perennial proposal most recently floated under David Cameron, the Bill’s stated aim is to restore “the balance of power between the legislature and the courts”. Among its main provisions are the establishment of the primacy of UK case law over that of the European Court of Human Rights, new limitations on courts’ ability to “read in” provisions that are not present in legislation, and a new burden on the claimant to prove they have suffered “significant disadvantage” before they can bring a human rights claim, with the aim of discouraging frivolous litigation.
Housing has rarely enjoyed as high a political profile as it does today. A combination of the housing crisis, the abandoned planning bill, the government’s flagship levelling-up programme and it being led by one of the highest profile Cabinet Ministers Michael Gove as well as a slew of recent Tory electoral punishments in which housing was thought to have played a central role have all ensured that housing is now a major part of the government’s legislative infrastructure. So it assumed a pivotal role in this week’s Queen’s Speech, ironically delivered for the first time by a Prince of Wales who himself has had a profound impact on the UK’s architecture and urban development landscape over the past forty years.
A new Policy Exchange report published this week, Saving a lost decade, argues that ministers must become directly accountable for tackling the inequalities that have been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper, authored by Richard Sloggett, Health and Social Care Lead, uses modelling to show that the Government is on course to miss a key manifesto pledge to increase healthy life years by five by 2035. Read the report and Foreword by Rt Hon Damian Green MP and Lord Filkin CBE here.
The report featured in The Financial Times, with the recommendations endorsed by Steve Brine MP, former Public Health Minister, during a debate in the House of Commons, which can be viewed here.
Policy Exchange congratulates David Goodhart, our Head of Demography, Immigration & Integration, on his appointment as a Commissioner on the board of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. David will sit on the board for a period of four years. This welcome appointment follows the announcement that Baroness Falkner of Margravine has been nominated to serve as the new Chair of the EHRC. David is the author of Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Centuryand has recently edited a Policy Exchange report on the technical skills revolution, The Training We Need Now. Read details of the announcement here.
Policy Exchange was delighted to welcome Matthew Pottinger, Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, for the first of two Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lectures this year. He delivered his lecture, titled “The Importance of Being Candid: On China’s Relationship with the Rest of the World”, in Mandarin, speaking of a “new consensus” in the US, which bridges political divides and unites the whole of society, on the threat posed China’s “technologically enhanced totalitarianism”. Watch the speech here.
Tuesday, 14 September, 2021
12:00 - 13:00
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will outline Britain’s post-Brexit trade strategy, and make the case for free trade and free enterprise as key tools for the levelling up agenda.
Venue: Policy Exchange
Thursday, 2 September, 2021
14:00 - 15:00
Lt Gen H R McMaster, Former US National Security Advisor, Rt Hon Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Former Secretary General of NATO, Lord Sedwill, Former UK National Security Adviser, Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Chaired by Dean Godson
Thursday, 26 August, 2021
12:30 - 13:30
Dr Moeed W. Yusuf is National Security Adviser of Pakistan. There will be a Q&A for our online audience over Zoom.